President Obama again affirmed his support of gay marriage on Thursday night at a star-studded Los Angeles fundraiser at the home of George Clooney. The event, which reportedly raised a record $15 million for the Obama re-election campaign fund, was attended by around 150 guests who paid $40,000, along with two women who won tickets by pledging $3 in an online raffle.
Speaking in front of an audience that was likely to be receptive to the message, Obama expanded on his view of gay marriage. “Obviously, yesterday we made some news,” he said to what was reported by The Los Angeles Times to be enthusiastic applause. Obama was referring to an ABC interview in which he revealed that he now personally supports same-sex marriage, which made him the first sitting president to ever do so.
“It was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions: Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us — does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that’s what’s at stake.”
The comments reiterated his earlier embrace of gay marriage, which was applauded by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton , who told MTV on Thursday that the news was happy, if a bit late in coming. “I wish he would have done this a long time ago,” Hilton said.
The gathering was organized by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, featured food by famed chef-to-the-stars Wolfgang Puck and took place in a large tent on the basketball court outside Clooney’s huge Tudor-style Hollywood home.
Among the stars in attendance were Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire, Jack Black, Salma Hayek, Billy Crystal, Barbra Streisand and husband James Brolin and Clooney’s girlfriend, Stacy Keibler.
Fresh off his joke-filled appearance at the Correspondents dinner in D.C., the president went for laughs again, chiding the host that his famous 2008 “Hope” campaign poster was taken from a photo of him sitting next to Clooney when Obama was a U.S. Senator. “This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been PhotoShopped out of a picture,” Obama said. “Never happened before, never happen again.”
And while the night had a positive tone, Obama acknowledged to his high-dollar donors that the upcoming election is going to be much more difficult than the 2008 contest. “This is going to be harder than it was the last time,” he said. “2008, in some ways, was lightning in a bottle … So we’re going to have to fight against cynicism and a belief that maybe things can’t happen and maybe the game is rigged, what’s the point. That’s what we’re going to be fighting against this time.”